Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween And Blog Give Away

I would like to wish you all a very Happy Halloween!  I hope you get lots of treats and no tricks!

Also tonight at midnight is the drawing for my Haunted By Holmes Blog Give Away so you still have time to enter!  Good luck!

Hugs, K. <3

Friday, October 29, 2010

Keeping Secrets And Sharing Techniques

My previous post generated a lot of comments through the various places it posted.  The interesting thing to me was that it was divided on how people feel about sharing information on how to do something.

Some artists feel that it's important to share as much as possible and other believe in keeping their practices to themselves.  I think either way is fine, it depends on what is right for you.

When I said I don't normally do tutorials, that's not because I don't want to tell you how to do a thing.  It's simply because I make traditional bears and there really isn't much I can add to that discussion that isn't already out there tenfold.  I don't use any really cool techniques like trapunto or needle felting or any one of a hundred other little things other bear artists do.  I like traditional bears.  I like being able to create something that has a bit of an old world craftsmanship feel to it.  I certainly love many artists work that incorporate some pretty nifty bells and whistles.  But for me, I like to make traditional.  I have been told many times I have an old soul.  I don't know exactly what that means, but maybe that's the reason why.

The fact is, if you ask me how to do something I will most likely tell you.  The one and ONLY secret I keep is what I use to distress the bears.  A girl has to retain a little mystery ya know!

Aside from keeping the mystery, I also firmly believe that no fledgling artist should ever have every thing told them about how to create something.  Part of the journey is learning your own techniques through trial and error.  Sometimes the best techniques are the ones that are discovered by happenstance or necessity.  I also believe it teaches us to be self reliant and think things through, thus creating a better crafted piece.

Over the years I have tried a thing here and there that I saw someone else do, but I haven't ever sought out the information on how to do it.  I like to figure things out on my own.

When it comes to art, I truly do believe that the journey is as important as the destination.

Distressing Process

A friend of mine was looking at Bastian yesterday and she commented on how perfectly the piece of vintage ribbon was that I used suited him.  She said most people wouldn't even look for something like that when they went antiquing

I laughed and told her that it wasn't vintage at all.  She asked how I could make something look so convincing.  (It's even more convincing when you see it in person, because the coloring to make it look faded and stained is subtle for the most part.) 

 People often wonder how I make the bears and their costuming look aged and worn.  I don't normally give tutorials.  I am not going to give you one now either.  My one secret is how I distress them and what I use, because I have spent literally years figuring it all out and how to make things look dirty that are in fact hermetically clean. 

However, I will give some tips for anyone who is interested in making things look old, whether it's a bear or anything else.

First of all lets go over what not to do.  Years and years ago I went to a show and I saw an artist that had some distressed, vintage looking pieces.  They looked quite amazing.  I picked one up and it felt really odd.  Luckily a customer asked them what they used to make their work look dirty.  The artist said she used real dirt. I immediately went and washed my hands.

I beg you, please never use dirt, sand or gravel to make anything look old.  I think I can safely say that most people want a clean product.

I also urge you to never use any food based products other than possibly tea or coffee.  I have heard of a lot of food based products that people use, but they can fade away quickly, and if you're going to go to all the effort to make something look a certain way you want it to stay looking that way for as long as possible.

Also depending on what type of food based thing you use you can attract bugs or even pets to it.  You don't want your piece chewed up. 

Once you have discovered your perfect distressing medium for whatever you make, the next question is how to apply it?  Many people use an airbrush and in the beginning so did I.  I love the look it gives, it's very soft and easy to apply...but it doesn't really look authentic because it's too even.

I have a mental process that I use.  At this point it's almost subconscious for me to do this as I am working, but in the beginning I really thought this through.  I kind of go through a fictional history of how it got to it's present condition.

Since Bastian is my example for the day, I will use him.  When he was finished being assembled, he hadn't been distressed yet.  I put the shiny new ribbon with the heart on him as if it had been a long necklace.  He looked the way he would have when he would have been first purchased if he was really an old bear.  I always age the costuming after I put it on the bear.

The next question is what would his life have been like?  I know that might sound crazy, but it's important to get to the place you want to be.  I think he would have belonged to a little girl who wasn't terribly rough on her toys.  Some of them would have maybe belonged to children who were rough on their toys which is why some are more distressed than others. 

She probably liked to have tea parties which of course he was always invited to, so he was handled a lot.  That's why he is missing a bit of fur here and there.  She probably had her tea parties outside in the summer and naturally he went along, so his feet and paws would darker from her trailing around with him.  He would have been carried in her arm so that's why he is slouchy in the middle now.  Gravity takes it's toll on all of us.  His joints would loosen a bit, the stuffing would break down in some areas.

I am sure she would have slept with him.  Being right handed like most people she would have had him on her right side which is why the ribbon is flattened and a bit more stained on the side that it is and also why that side of his muzzle is a bit darker than the other.  She would have kissed him goodnight every night because that's what children do with their favorite stuffed toy. 

Through use and play the ribbon would have gotten a few holes here and there and faded from the sun.  As for the safety pins...I don't know, that's just something I would have done as a kid.  Don't ask me why.  I probably would have thought they were pretty because of the color and I would have pinned them to fact when you think about it, I actually did do that to him!  *laughs*

I know that might seem like a lot to go through, but if you want something to come anywhere near looking authentic you have to give it a history in order to make it convincing.  That applies to anything you want to make look old.  Just ask yourself how would this have aged?  If you aren't sure how your type of art would age, try to study authentically old pieces and see the commonalities.  Ask yourself how did it get like that?  Once you can tell that story, you're on the right road.  All that's left to do is mix in a little artistic license!

Hugs, K. <3

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

~*~ Bastian ~*~

While it may take me a long time to design a new animal pattern, it does not take me long to design new bears.  I have made a couple thousand bears in my lifetime and I kinda know what I am doin at this point. 

I don't usually save old patterns once I stop making them.  I feel that it's better not to because I have to keep making new ones in order to always move forward.  Not to mention that after three decades if I kept them all, I would have patterns stacked to the rafters.  That's not to say I won't revisit an idea though.

Quite a few years ago I made a very long, lanky bear pattern.  I made about 20-25 bears from that pattern and everyone really loved them.  They were nice and slouchy, very loosely jointed and a bit under stuffed in the limbs and body so they were really huggable.  I had been thinking about making that style bear again for a while.  So night before last I decided to sit down and design the pattern.  I made it not quite as long as the first lanky bear pattern, but I like this one a great deal.  He is just right!

I spent all of yesterday making the bear.  I think he turned out splendidly if I do say so myself!  I have a feeling he won't be here long, and when he goes I will miss him.  If you would like to visit Bastian, you can do that on the Bears page of my website.

PS...I figured out what to do with the hearts I made!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

With Childlike Abandon

Have you ever watched a small child who has just been given some art supplies for the first time?  Maybe they got a water color set or some modeling clay.  Almost every child will immediately start making something.

They don't stop to ask themselves if they have any talent, if they can do it, will it be any good, or should they even try.  All they think is yay I get to make something!  They approach the new project without hesitation or trepidation.

When they are finished they proudly take their newly formed masterpiece and show it off for everyone to see.

When we grow up we tend to lose that carefree attitude about art.  We can over think it.  I did just that this week.  I went and bought the paper clay right away after I told you I was going to try it.

But I let it sit on my table a little too long.  The shiny package beckoning me and taunting me at the same time.  I began to wonder if I could make anything out of it.  Should I even try?  Or should I toss it into the drawer of things I think I want to try and talk myself out of due to fear of failure?

I was about to choose the latter when I thought about my first work of art when I was three years old.  I suddenly had a flash of how that felt.  I decided, what the heck I would try it.

Working with Paper Clay proved to be harder than I thought.  I hadn't sculpted anything in many years and it's not like Sculpy or Fimo at all.  But I made a couple of funny little hearts.

Sure they rather resemble something actually made by a small child. (They look a little better in person, they didn't photograph all that well.)  But after painting them and adding the crackle finish, I decided there was a certain appeal to them.  Maybe I hadn't failed so badly after all. 

I don't know what I am going to do with them.  But I do know two things...I am going to play with the paper clay a bit more and I am sure with a little practice I can improve.  The other thing I know now, is that when I want to try to something, I am not going to talk myself out of it.  Instead I am going to approach it with childlike abandon!

PS...I did make something new that turned out really cute tonight, but you won't get to see if for another month yet.  It's one of the pieces for the online Holiday Bear Show listed at the right.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Killing The Bluebird To Find Happiness

Most artists who have a website and/or blog end up joining social networking sites at some point. While some people find those to work out very well and be a wonderful tool to use in their business, others don't.

If you read my blog then you know I am not a big fan of those sites. I gave up on Twitter (that's the killing the bluebird part) long ago and was happier for it, and Facebook still vexes me because I find it convoluted and very user unfriendly...but I still make feeble attempts with Facebook.

If you belong to this type of site, one of the main goals is to expand your social network. People follow us and we follow others, we receive friend requests, etc. We usually tend to accept these without much thought as to who is offering and why. I've done it, we all have.  Most of the people who send requests are very nice, friendly people who share common interests with us.

This afternoon I was reading a blog post about someone who was encountering a problem on one of these sites. It reminded me of two conversations with artist friends I have had in the past few months, one had an issue on Twitter and the other on Facebook. So this post is dedicated to my two friends, and anyone else who has encountered this problem.

If you are online long enough and put yourself out there you are inevitably going to run into someone who is less than kind. In fact you might run into someone who is downright nasty without cause.

Now when I have run into these people, the first thing I do is give them the benefit of the doubt. Is it possible I misinterpreted their words or intent? It's easy to do when you don't hear voice inflections and see facial expressions. I tend to speak in a straight forward manner and I have been misinterpreted many times in both what I was saying and my intent. The thing I get most often is that people think I am mad, when in fact I am not at all. The internet is kind of a funny thing, people tend to take the worst interpretation of anything as a default mode. Also when someone voices an opinion or doesn't make a pretty, fluffy post people sometimes rail against it. I am not sure why that is.  Life isn't one giant picture postcard.

But other times what is said cannot be misinterpreted. So if I encounter someone who is being less than kind, I still try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I like to believe that most people are basically nice, but everyone has an off day now and again. Believe me, I have off days...I am human.  I ask myself is this really the character of the person, or is something going on in their real life that is making them type these things as an outlet.

However there are always going to be a small handful of people who get very brave thanks to the anonymity of the net and turn into keyboard commandos. It can be easy for some to be cruel to someone when they don't have to look them in the eye.

So what happens when you encounter one of these people? Having hate or anger aimed at us can be very hurtful if it comes out of the blue, or you don't feel as if you have done anything wrong.

You might think someone making bad comments about you as an artist or your work will effect your business. It can seem like a really big deal! The truth is, the internet is a very big place and people have short memory spans. Even if a handful of people do read what is said, they will either be discerning enough to know it's not true, or they won't remember it in a week anyway so relax.  It's not going to ruin your business.  It will probably only ruin your day.

If you come across one of these people who is out to make trouble, if you can't talk to them and reason with them...remove them from your list of friends or followers. Most sites have a way to block people. You don't have to take it though.

The next thing I suggest is really think about these sites.  Do you enjoy tweeting and posting to facebook?  Is it working for you?  If it is, that's great.  Don't let a rotten apple spoil it for you.  But if it's just taking up time, maybe it's time to let go of that particular site.  You're not obligated to join them just because other artists do.  There are other sites out there that are more specialized to what you do that you might find make you happier. 

The next time someone you don't know sends a friend request or follows you, take a second to look at their profile before you accept. My best rule of thumb about people on the internet is this:

If I wouldn't invite them into my house through my front door, why would I invite them in through my computer screen!

Click here to go to the site that created the image above and graciously put it up for free, if you want to use it! They also offer one in favor of Twitter.

***No bluebirds were actually harmed in the making of this post!***

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Follow Up To "Saying No"

When I make a blog post, it not only posts here but it also posts to a couple of other sites like The Hive and a few other places. While I only had a couple comments on here on my post Saying No , I did receive nearly 50 comments in total, and 7 e-mails over this post.  99% of you fully understood what I was saying, but a couple of you thought I was too harsh or even "mean" with my policies.  So I am going to take a moment to put it into context, and also help you understand what goes into the creation and sales process of each piece. 

Also if you asked to be able to repost the original post, you do have my permission to do that.

If I walked into any department store in town and wanted buy say a coat that cost 350.00 and I took that coat to the counter and I asked them to hold it for a week until I could get it, they would tell me the most they could hold it would be until the end of the business day.  This is standard practice.  So by my holding it for a week, I am being more generous.

If I asked them to put the coat on lay away, I can't think of a single store in town that would do that.  Most of them did away with lay away long ago.

If I asked them to change the pockets and collar on the coat, they would probably say no, but they might say yes if they have an in house tailor.  They would also charge me a whole bunch extra to make the alterations.

If I asked them to make me a custom coat, they would flat out tell me they don't do that.

If I asked them if I could have a discount on the coat, they would say no.  Period.  Even if I said I had bills or something unexpected come up but I really want it.  They would explain that they have bills and overhead and things that come up too.

If I said I wanted the coat shipped to my Aunt in Australia and could they please lie about the cost of the coat, they would say no because they could get into a lot of trouble for that.   Chances are they wouldn't even ship it to Australia for me anyway, but if they did they would have set fees to do so.  I will ship to other countries.

Yes I am an artist, yes I make teddy bears and teddy bear artists are nice people...we are also business people.  I don't do anything any different than any other business, but yet people ask me to do things all the time that they wouldn't ask other types of businesses to do.  When I won't, they think I am mean and rigid.  But yet if they went to a department store they wouldn't even consider asking for these special things.

My policies aren't anything that I wouldn't do on the other side of that fence if I was a customer.

I asked for a custom piece three years ago, the only thing I asked was that the bear be a specific color that I knew the artist had used before.  Beyond that I told her she was free to make it any way she wanted.  I would have absolutely hands down bought that bear...even if it wasn't what I pictured, because I would feel it was unethical to do anything else since I ordered it.  The artist said it was no problem they would be happy to do it.  I am still waiting for it, and I am never going to get it.  I think it's better to be honest and say no and tell you why I won't do the thing you might ask for than saying sure and having you be disappointed.

Now I am going to take you through the entire process I go through to make a piece so that you will understand what's involved if you are reading this and you are not an artist.

First I order mohair and glass eyes from an importer.  Mohair is 200.00 a yard and up, plus the shipping cost.  I have to go to the hardware store for jointing supplies.  I have to go to the fabric store for stuffing materials.  I have to shop all over the place for things to costume the bear or animal.

I have to design the patterns.

I have to conceptualize the design of each individual piece since they are one of a kind.

I cut out the bear and sew it together. 

I also cut out the wooden part of my own joints.

I assemble and costume it.

I distress it, this alone takes a day or two for each one.

I have to photograph it in order to put it online for sale.  I usually take about 50 photos of each piece.

I have to sort through the photos of each piece and edit them to the proper size.

I have to design a page for my website for each piece and type up all of the information.

I have to post the piece to my website, etsy, my blog, facebook, bearpile (which I pay for) and the artist's guild.

I have to do print ads, which I have to design myself, which also cost a great deal of money.

When the piece sells, I have to wait for the money to come in and clear.

I have to print a packing slip, package it nicely, get in my car and use gas to go to the post office where I usually have to stand in line using at least 20 minutes, sometimes up to an hour and a half of my time.

This entire process takes a huge amount of time, money and effort on my part to bring you those sweet little faces you love.  I do it all myself, and sometimes I work up to 20 hours a day...fall into bed in an exhausted stiff and sore heap and get up the next day and do it all again.  I don't have shoe maker elves and fairy dust to help me out.  It might be a warm fuzzy business but it's still a business.

So yes, I am an artist, I make teddy bears and I am a nice person who is usually willing to work with you as much as I can especially if we already have a nice business history.  But I am also a business person who doesn't have unrealistic demands, because they are the same as most businesses on the planet, and more lenient in many instances.  But I have to protect myself as such.  I sincerely hope that you can understand and respect what all goes into my business, and that of all artist's businesses.  I love making bears, I love making people happy.  I have been doing this for 30 years.  But you have to see my side of it a little too.

I Won!

I won one of these darling little hats from Queen Of Nostalgia.  Aren't these the cutest witch hats ever!  She has so much talent.  She also has them available in her Etsy Shop.  So you can be the proud owner of one too!  Go see....go now! *grins*

I can't even tell you how thrilled I am to have won one of these.  I was so in love with these when I saw them that I went back to look at them three times! 

She is not only the Queen of Nostalgia, but also the Queen of Kindness!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saying No

When you have a handmade business, you obviously want to sell your work.  As a result, one of the hardest things for artists to do is say no.  I see comments and questions on this all the time.

Most of our customers are perfectly lovely people who buy things and pay right away, never ask for changes and are happy when they get what they purchased.  But occasionally someone will put us on the spot.

It can be very awkward to respond to their request sometimes.  In some circumstances we find it easier to just acquiesce to what they want us to do, even when we really don't want to or don't think we should.

So how do you say no to a customer request?  What happens if you do say no?

I like to make my customers happy.  I will usually try to work with them to help them get a piece they want. 

However, there are certain instances when I just have to say no.  It's never easy, but it is ultimately my business and I have set my policies to what they are for very good reasons.  It's also important for people to understand that like many other artists, this is not a hobby for me, it's how I make my living.  It's how I pay my bills and buy food and other frivolities.

I lost a very large sale of several pieces this weekend because I had to say no.  I knew I would lose the sale, but I couldn't bend my policies out of necessity.  I realize my potential customer didn't really understand why I wouldn't despite my explanations.  It was unfortunate, I didn't want to make them unhappy, but I couldn't accommodate them.

I thought maybe I would go over a few of the things I say no to.  Possibly it will help someone else out there who is reading this and wasn't sure what to do in the same instance.  Please keep in mind these are just my policies, they are neither right nor wrong...they are simply what works for me and I an not suggesting that you should or should not do any of these things...that's entirely up to you.

When it comes to shops I do wholesale, but I always say no to consignment.  The reason I have never done it is because if a shop has your piece on consignment they aren't responsible for it if something happens.  If their shop burns down, floods, etc. or the piece is stolen it isn't covered by their insurance and they are not responsible for restitution.  You are simply out all the money, time and effort you put into your work.

I say no to lay away.  I realize that people like things and they don't always have the money right on the spot to purchase something.  Believe me I have been there.  As much as I would like to do lay away for people, I simply can't.  I have limited space, and if I want to make new pieces, sometimes the pieces I already have need to go out into the world so I have room for more.  I will reserve a piece for up to seven days though.  I have been in the circumstance twice this year that bears were offered to me at a later date that I had wanted and didn't think I could get because they were sold.  They became available and I wasn't prepared for it, so both times I had to ask if they would mind holding the bear until Friday.  But believe me, paying for them was my very first order of business on Friday.  As a rule I never order anything unless I know I have a way to pay for it right there because it's not fair to the artist who is counting on that money.

In this day and age of credit, it's very easy to find a way to pay for something if you really want it.  If it comes right down to not being able to afford it, then I simply don't tell the artist I want to buy it.  I will wait and hope it's still available when I can.

I always say no to reducing the price.  To be honest, this is the one request that just makes me genuinely annoyed.  You don't go to the department store or the grocery store and haggle over the prices, so you don't get to do it with me.  I have a formula I go by to set my prices based on supplies and work involved.

This also applies to shipping.  I will reduce shipping for combined pieces since they are being put into the same box, but I can't negotiate prices with the post office.  Shipping just costs what it costs.

The next request I get sometimes is to say the item is a gift if it's being shipped overseas so the customer can avoid duty fees.  I understand that many customers don't really realize the implications of what they are asking and the position they put us in as business people.

I also say no to obscure shipping methods.  You can have it delivered by USPS, UPS or FedEx if you're in a rush.  Anything else is always most emphatically a no because too many people who want it shipped by some unusual method or courier are running a scam.

I rarely get asked to change something on a piece, but occasionally it does happen.  When I sit down to make a piece I do it in one of two ways.  Either I know what it's going to be before I even begin, or I let it develop and tell it's story about who it is as I create it.  Either way my vision of that piece comes together into a finished product.  I have put a lot of hard work into making it just the way it is.  I don't really like to change things once a piece is done.

I also usually say no to custom pieces unless it's a simple thing like shade of fur, color of bow, ect.  I know that might seem surprising since many, many people do custom work.   I used to try to always do them, and on occasion I will still do one if I know my customer well enough.  But there are two reasons I say no, one is because pattern designs don't come easy for me.  I am a perfectionist and it takes me a while to get to where I want something to be.  So if you ask me to make an animal that I haven't made before it's going to take a while...a long while probably.  Since it takes a lot of time it has to be something I know I want to make again.  I am also hesitant to make custom pieces from existing patterns for two reasons.  One is that the customer is asking me to recreate a piece I have sold.  I normally make one of a kind or one of a few things. It isn't fair to the person who bought the piece in the first place thinking that was the only one like it. 

The second reason is if a customer wants something they envision in their head.  I can't see inside your head.  *grins*  Whatever I make won't look like the image you're picturing in your mind.  Bears and their friends have a way of turning out how they want and I only have so much control over it.  The good news is, if you like my work and are patient you will most likely find a piece in the near future that you love.

I know that seems like a lot of things to say no to.   I don't like saying no, but it has to be done at times.  I try to do it in the most polite way possible.  There are always going to be exceptions to the rules.   The good news is that I get to say yes a lot more often than I have to say no.  I hope maybe you took something useful away from this.  Just remember it's your business, and you have the right to run it how you see fit.  Sometimes that might mean doing something unpleasant like saying no.  You might lose a sale, hopefully the customer will respect your business in the end and you won't.   But a bird in the hand isn't always worth two in the bush in our line of work!

Have a great day, I hope you get to say yes yes yes all day long to happy things!

I would also like to say thank you to everyone who took time to stop by my Halloween party post and leave kind comments!  (If you missed it, it's in the previous post.)

Hugs, K. <3

Friday, October 15, 2010

Magic In The Garden ~ A Fanciful Twist Halloween Blog Party

Welcome to the party!  October is a time of magic as you well know, and I have a tale to tell about a little bit of magic that happened on this very day!

Every year since I have lived in this house I have planted pumpkins.   I was certain that since I had a proper garden for the first time this year they would be better than ever.  But sadly my dears, it was not to be. 

I tended my vines with great care, and they grew hardy and strong.  However, despite my best efforts not a single pumpkin formed this season.

This morning when I went out to pick the last of my beans and carrots I spied a glimmer of orange under one of the leaves!  Could it be?

Yes I was sure it was a tiny little pumpkin!

I moved closer for a better that an eye?

I moved the leaves aside and jumped back.  A tiny pumpkin was there indeed...but he was looking back at me with large full moon shaped eyes, black as midnight!

The poor little guy was all alone, so I plucked him right out of the patch and stuck him in my apron pocket.

I was busy decorating so I set him on the table with the pumpkins waiting to be carved for that oh so special evening.  I thought he would feel right at home, but he seemed a bit nervous...

I tucked him safely inside a wreath, but that didn't seem to make him feel any better.

Finally I took him downstairs and sat him by the haunted house, and I went on about my business.

Tricky Tweeter got curious and came to see what all the fuss was about.  He told Pip he would be his friend.  Pip told him he was afraid of Halloween!

Jacko arrived next and announced he would like to be friends with him too!  They wanted to know why he was afraid of Halloween since it's such a magical time of year with trick or treating, bobbing for apples and great costumes!  Pip explained he was afraid that he would carved into a jack-o-lantern. 

They assured him that would never happen and that he would be around for many, many more Halloween's to come!  They all danced a little jig together and began making plans for the big night!

Pip, his friends and I would like to wish you all a Happy Halloween!  May you find a little magic of your own!

I would like to thank all of you for stopping by, and A Fanciful Twist for hosting the party!  Be sure to stop by and visit all the other lovely blogs participating!

Also be sure to check out my Haunted By Holmes Blog Give Away.

Lastly, if you are interested in Pip, Jacko or Tricky Tweeter they are available for adoption on my website;

PS...I always visit every blog.  It somtimes takes me a bit, but I promise I will get to yours!

A Halloween Party!

What a busy week!  I have been hard at work here on some projects.  One of which you will get to see tomorrow on my Halloween Party post.  The party is hosted by A Fanciful Twist.

I made something especially for it!   I have never made anything like it before and if I do say so turned out so darn cute!

So be sure and stop by for a ghoulishly good time and a peek at what I have been working away on!

Hugs, K. <3

Monday, October 11, 2010

Haunted By Holmes Blog Give Away

Over the years I have tried various types of jewelry making.  For the last few months I have had an idea in the back of my mind to make some distressed, textile adornments.  After all...textiles and distressed are what I know.  So for my very first piece I have made a fabric cuff.  I was inspired by Sherlock Holmes.  It has vintage buttons, pocket watch style chains, hounds tooth, taffeta and velvet, other little bits of things, and even a locket that has been distressed and embellished with the word "elementary."

Now here is the fun part...since it's my brand new venture, I thought what better way to kick it off than to give the first piece away!

To enter...all you have to do is be a follower, post about it on your blog, and leave a comment below with a link to your blog!

It's elementary my dears!

A winner will be drawn on October 31st at midnight.  Good luck!

Hugs, K. <3

Saturday, October 9, 2010

~*~ Tricky Tweeter ~*~

What could be more fun than finding a sweet little black bird in your trick or treat bucket?  You can visit Tricky on the Animals page of my website.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When Dragons Attack

I didn't plan this pic, I was working on something and just happened to look up and see the angle and I thought it was funny. 

If you're wondering why I have a big plastic's for National Dress Your Dragon Day.  (That's completely not true, I just made that up!)  I bought it at Michaels last week.  Don't ask me why...I am not sure yet.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

~*~ Alby ~*~

Ta da!  Here is Alby, my Christmas bear for the ad.  Now he may not look too decked out for the holiday, but to me he is the epitome of a Christmas bear.  I will tell you why in a little story....

When I was a little girl of about 7 or 8 I had gone to the grocery store with my Grandma.  It was about a month before Christmas and at the checkout counter they had a magazine display.  On the cover of Good Housekeeping that year they had a beautiful Christmas tree with a dapper looking teddy bear sitting underneath it.  The bear was wearing a red plaid vest. 

I absolutely fell head over heels in love with that bear.  I knew exactly what I was going to ask Santa for that year.  So that night I got out a pencil and piece of paper and started writing my letter. 

I took my time to compose it because my penmanship was terrible and I wanted to make sure that Santa could read it.    I started out by inquiring about his health.  I respectfully asked for the bear, swearing I had been pretty good all year.  Then I wished him, Mrs. Santa and all the reindeer and elves the very best.

The next time we walked up to the post office I asked the postmaster if he could mail my letter to Santa.  Now this was hard for me to do, because I was painfully shy as a kid and was always scared to talk to people.  But I really wanted that bear.  My Grandma told me that I wouldn't be able to mail the letter because I didn't have a stamp.  But the postmaster, being a kind man said he would give me a stamp since it was a very special letter.  I remember my Grandma frowning at him.  I am sure she would have liked to have had a peek at what was in the letter since she didn't know I had already written it.

She asked me on the walk home what I had asked for.  Now having supreme faith in Santa, I said he would know when he read the letter. Poor Grandma!

Christmas morning arrived and I ran out to the living room to see where Santa had left my present.  We were very poor and couldn't afford a tree that year.  On the back of the sofa was a perfectly respectable doll.  I am sure when Grandma took a look at my face she knew that wasn't what I had asked for.

She asked me if I liked the doll.  I said yes, because I didn't want to be selfish about it.  I didn't say much else though and I tried not to cry.  Finally she got it out of me what I had asked for.  She pulled me on her lap and explained that maybe there was another child out there who needed the bear more than I did and so Santa had to make a very tough decision about who to give it to because bears like that were hard to make and he didn't have many to go around.  That actually appeased me.  Even though we were very poor, I understood the concept at an early age that there were people out there worse off than we were.

I played with the doll and loved it.  But I never completely forgot about that bear.  I think that might have been one of the very first steps that sent me in the career direction I ended up taking.  I wanted to help Santa since special bears were hard to make, and I wanted to make sure there were enough to go around so that everyone who wanted one got one on Christmas morning.

You can visit Alby on the Bears page of my website.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...Christmas?

One of the pitfalls of being an artist if you do holiday pieces is that you have to start months in advance.  I have been trying to get myself in the mood to do the Christmas bear I am working on.  I have to get him done because I am doing an ad in the upcoming Teddy Bear & Friends that will be out in November. 

The problem is I am not really in the mood for Christmas yet.  Now if you're wondering why I have the snowman shown above...well it's because the bear isn't done and I had the snowman handy.  So he got to have his pic taken for this post. 

I made a whole bunch of them several years ago and gave them to everyone along with their presents.  It's a little custom of mine.  I always make some little trinket my friends and family can have right when I deliver their presents.  You have to admit he is kind of cute though!  I used to make a lot of yarn animals and snowmen.  I haven't made any in a while.  He actually has a bit of glitter on his embroidered snowflakes, but it doesn't show in the pic.

I have a little bird in the works for Halloween I would much rather be working on.  But alas the Christmas ad is due in a few days so the bear must come first!  You should probably be seeing him soon!

Fa la la la la la!

Back to work I go...sigh~

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!  Hugs, K. <3

Oh and PS...I changed up my website again...just a tad! *Giggles*  I have to fiddle with it constantly!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

So Cute!

Today I was out and about and I picked up the new copy of Somerset Life.  It was filled with all sorts of luscious pics, but it was the very last article that really caught my attention.  I actually read every word of it.  I usually just look at the pics.  It was about a woman in California who makes these absolutely adorable little bird pins.  I loved every single thing about them.  Especially the distressed crackle finish on them!

It gave the address of her blog...sadly that was all written in Turkish and I couldn't find a translator on there so I have no idea what it said.  BUT...she had a link to her etsy shop.  So naturally I ran off to have a look and was surprised to discover two things, one that she actually still had some since she was in the magazine, and inexpensive they were!

The one shown above is the one that I bought.  (I appropriated her pic, I hope she won't be mad!)

So my darlings...go...go now and get yourself a little cute, before everyone else buys the magazine and finds them!  Here is the link:

Decaf Latte On Etsy

It also told how she makes them.  I was rather excited over this information because it got the wheels and cogs in my little blonde brain whirring and spinning.  I am going to try the technique to make something else that I have in mind.  I love to sculpt little things, and I have tried Fimo before but it always make me violently sick when I bake it.  So I am going to try this method. 

Speaking of all the wheels and cogs in my little blonde brain whirring and spinning...I have had another little idea brewing in the back of my mind for a while.  Last night when I laid down to go to sleep, suddenly a whole thing popped into my head to flesh it out.  So I am going to be working on that as well.

On top of that...I had yet another idea.  And of course I have some new bears and animals in the works.   AND...there is going to be a blog give away this month!!!  So October should prove to be a very busy month for me! 

Stay tuned!  (And go visit Decaf Latte!)

Hugs, K. <3

Saturday, October 2, 2010

~*~ Mr. Buttons ~*~

I rarely make really fluffy, longer haired bears.  But every once in a blue moon you have to change it up a little!  Mr. Buttons is a charmer in his wool scarf and button chapeau!  If you would like to visit him, you can do that on my website on his page.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Putting The Positive First

It might surprise you to discover that I don't like to sew.  I like sewing my animals, but if the fashion world ever turned upside down and we had to start making our own clothes, I would be wearing potato sacks.  I might embellish them with ribbons or beads, but at the heart they would be potato sacks.  Seriously if I had to pull a Scarlet O'hara...the curtains would have been wrapped like a toga.  I like to watch Project Runway, it fascinates me.  I could not do what these people do.  Even when I don't really care for what they create, I am still impressed that they can do it, especially under that kind of pressure.

I firmly believe however that it's time for Nina, Michael and Heidi to be replaced.  Over the seasons they have become very harsh in their criticisms when they don't like something.  Now I understand that it's their job to judge, but I think it's so important to temper a criticism by pointing out a positive first.  Even Len on Dancing With The Stars said that this week. 

Over the years I have sometimes been asked by newer artists to give them suggestions on how to improve or what I think they are doing wrong.  Yes they are my competition and I am in business for myself.  But I also know it's not all about me, so I am not going to steer them in the wrong direction.  I always try to deliver those suggestions in the most positive way...but I ALWAYS have told them what I think they are doing right first. 

Nina and Michael have a lot of experience in the fashion world, they are always harping on a fresh idea and a new perspective.  I think it would improve the show if we had a fresh set of judges with a new perspective.  I cannot believe that they said Andy's outfit was unwearable tonight.  Obviously it wasn't since the model was wearing it.  It might not appeal to some people, but I am sure there were viewers out there who loved it.  I know several times I have seen something on the show they hated and I would buy it in an instant, and vice versa.  Also I thought that Valeries's dress was pretty tonight. 

They have been extremely hard on her this season, and I don't know why.  I thought that some of the things she created  were just great and I would wear them.  Some of the winning outfits this season didn't impress me at all.  I did LOVE the dress Mondo created last week though that won.  I would wear that in a heartbeat.

I want you to take a moment and think back to when you first started on your career as an artist.  Chances are you made a few things you thought turned out terrible.  Of course we are our own worst critics.  But most likely some well meaning peer, family member or friend told you what they liked about it in order to bolster your spirits.  Whether you realized it at the time or not, that little encouragement may have been the very thing that kept you working on towards the next few pieces instead of just giving up.

I remember the first bear I made, it was terrible.  TERRIBLE!  I was 17, and I threw it in the trash and cried because I had worked on it for five days.  My Mother pulled it out of the waste paper basket and told me it was cute.  It wasn't, but if she hadn't I probably wouldn't have made another one.  I am glad she salvaged him because I did make another one, I still have him packed away in a trunk.  Now I can look back at him and just laugh.  I can also see how far I have come in three decades.  Back then we didn't have the luxury of the tools and information on making bears that is available today.  Nor did we have the benefit of other artists experience to draw from since it was a brand new genre of art.

Now I realize that Project Runway is a TV show.  For some reason cruelty on TV gets ratings, and I don't understand why.  But for me...I won't buy Marie Claire anymore.  I picked up a cute pair of shoes while shopping the other day, and as soon as I saw the Michael Kors label in them I put them down and walked away.  I just cannot bring myself to support the careers of people who can be so cruel to other people whose places they were once in.  I think it's important to focus on the positive in another artist first, then deliver your suggestions.  You don't have to like their work, but you should appreciate their efforts.  I think it would be nice if we focused on the positive a lot more on TV.  Maybe it would be a nice step towards teaching us to work together to help one another in this business.  If we could do that we would all be more successful!

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Current copyright laws allow for all work to be automatically protected when it is created. All original artwork, photos, text, logo, descriptions, and derivative works from Blondheart are not to be copied, imitated or distributed in any way. All rights reserved solely by the artist, Kelly Dauterman.

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